Saturday, May 31, 2008

Complacency and the Kingdom of God

God told me "you are a runner, not a camper, you hate to camp.  SO WHY ARE YOU CAMPING?"

You see, every day that I run I use the same route.  I am a creature of habit.  However, being a creature of habit is not necessarily a good thing in the Kingdom.  God is always moving.  You know, "cloud by day, fire by night"? If we aren't moving and He is -- guess what?  We are left behind.  Not only are we left behind but we are also left in old revelation. Revelation of yesterday, old manna -- yuck!  But somehow we manage to subsist on that until we are so malnourished that we wake up one day wondering "How did I get here"?  Well, we really didn't set out to go into no-where-land.  We sort of just found ourselves there.  Something happened - discouragement, laziness, busyness of life, kids, husband, wife, job, etc. You name it. But it's not God.

The funny thing is, is that in the natural I really dislike camping. I've always wondered why people find it so fun.  Everything is harder when you camp.  Cooking and cleaning up being the two worst in my book.  Twice as much work to get it accomplished.  And don't get me started on the lack of hygiene and the backaches from sleeping on the ground. I am probably getting myself in trouble here with those of you who love to camp. 

But somehow God's people love to camp -- in spiritual places, that is.  Camping in old familiar places.  Camping in old attitudes & revelations.  Hey, this is how we've ALWAYS done it. You've probably heard the saying that the last great move of God can (and will be) the biggest hindrance to the new move of God.  Oh God help us!  He's moving forward and we have our cold, dead fingers still wrapped around a tiny bit of revelation from the past that is rotting and falling away but still we're proclaiming that it is TRUTH!  Meanwhile, the lost and hurting and broken are passing us by because all they see is a person in the throws of death and not The Life they seek.

Oh God, how can a region be changed if I have so much trouble changing?  How can the people who look to me, (follow me as I follow Christ) go into new places if I am camping out where You used to be.  OUCH!

I am a person who is a builder.  I want to see change.  I have a big picture mentality.  But God has a one-heart-at-a-time mentality and He is concerned with mine.  One little beating heart in the hand of God.  It really is a dance of me and Him. A focus of one thing -- loving my daddy and being consumed in Him, by Him and for Him.  If that is happening in my life then I will be going into new places.  I can't help but go where He goes because He is my only focus --not the big picture.  Oh that counts but it's not numero uno.  I can get lost in the big picture when what He is looking for in me is that I am focused on the one thing. He definitely is a big picture God, just not the way we think of it. After all, He IS the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  You can't get any bigger picture than that. 

So here I am trying to help God with the big picture and He definitely has that under control. He just wants me to love on Him.  You know "seek first the kingdom..." Matt 6.33.  And in the process of trying to help God, I find myself even farther away from Him.  

Running with God is a daily choice and it is an inward thing.  It doesn't mean I have to manifest some sort of God busyness to prove to others I am going forward. He knows if I am connected with Him in the here and now. He knows if I am violently pressing into Him, looking for ways to please Him as my heart yearns towards His presence.  This is an unseen place. 

You know how wonderful fresh bread smells? When you walk down the street and a bakery is nearby, doesn't the fragrance of all that is wonderful draw you in? God has fresh bread! All I have to do is go to Him to get it. If I have fresh bread then guess what? Others are going to smell it in my life and want it too. 

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in  Christ, and through us diffuses
 the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."  2Cor2.14

Oh God, help us -- help me be a person who seeks your face and does not get distracted from the real goal which is dwelling in my Father's heart. You are faithful and you can take care of the big picture -- I repent of camping in the old things and trying to "help you" build your Kingdom.  Lord help me! I want to run with You into quiet places of connection & adoration and not into manic places of distraction.

Renew, refresh and revision my inward life so that all I do is please YOU!  

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Diary of a 10k run

As I've shared before, The Avenue of the Giant's Run was a revelatory experience.  There is something about a group of people that all share your crazy passion to go out there and go for it. Even one of my sons was stunned when I told him that I had achieved my goal of running the whole 10k without walking...over an hour of running.  He looked like he thought I must be making it up.  Of course, he IS my son who sleeps until 1:00 in the afternoon -- not exactly athletic material at this point in time.

The run was exhilarating.  The run was exciting.  The run was a little hard -- Well, not too much. It started out with all of us straining at the starting line to get out there and not get run over by the others.  Since there were a lot of walkers, I didn't place myself at the very back of the pack but sort of in the middle.  As we all started off, I was passed by many people but soon I had established my pace and found myself even passing a few people.  It's a great feeling to pass others and a not so great feeling to get passed by.  You just have to roll with it.  I wore my Garmin heart rate monitor so I could try to keep my pace in check.  I didn't want to burn out before the finish AND I really wanted to finish strong.  Oh yeah, the temp was in the low 50's -- perfect for running!

The run started off over a bridge and then curved in a downward slope.  What goes down must go up so I was mentally preparing for the fact that I was going to face that hill on the way to the finish line as the run was 3.1 miles - out and back.  There were several water stops along the way but I carried my own water so I wouldn't have to slow down.  Before I got to the turn around I was already facing the rabbits that had reached the half way point and were on their way back. I gave a nod of acknowledgment and of course, respect.  I will never be the first runner in but I can certainly enjoy and admire those that are.

I make the turn around and am feeling strong.  I hit a relaxed stride and just settle in. Now, I am passing those that are still on their way to the halfway point.  Some are runners and some are walkers.  I pass the water stations and now the end is in sight.  I come up to a couple who are running this race together.  She is walking and running.  I hear her say to him that she had wanted to do this 10k in 1 hour or less but now she is telling him that "just to finish" is enough for her.  He agrees.  I realize that many who have taken on this challenge have seriously miscalculated the challenge.  I know that I have not.  I regularly run this distance and I know the challenge I face.

I pass this couple and up ahead I see the "HILL".  Yeah, yeah... the brochure talked about the challenge of the hill and how "fun" it is.  Well, I wouldn't go right to fun.  I run hills all the time but a hill at the end of a challenge is generally not fun.  I remind myself that success in running is mostly in your head.  You can seriously talk yourself out of a successful run and you can seriously talk yourself into a GREAT run.  Ok, I can do this.  I take it one step at a time.  I decide not to keep looking at how much hill is left but to concentrate on each step.  Sort of like living a successful Kingdom life, huh?  Step by Step.  Yeah, we still need to have vision but small goals go a long way in the road to success.  Before I know it, I have crested the hill and am coming over the bridge.  I get out my cell phone to call my husband who is waiting for me at the finish line.  Oh, how I love how he supports my running!  I promised to call him when I got close.  Of course, now he doesn't answer his phone so I give up and just enjoy the run into the finish line.  

I hear the announcer say, "And this next runner is Shell Swift -- a great name for a runner!" Well, I'm not so swift but heck, I finished!  People on the sidelines are clapping and cheering. Emil is there with his camera and I remember to raise my hands in the air as I cross the finish line in good sportsmanship fashion.  The excitement and sense of accomplishment is unbelievable.  I did it!  Now, on to the next challenge.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Avenue of the Giants RUN

I DID IT & IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!  I ran the Avenue of the Giants in the beautiful Humboldt County Redwoods.  It was a chilly morning on May 4th.  Emil and played hooky from church (not really, everyone knew where we were at).  

There were probably 1000 runners there and it was the biggest run I have ever been a part of.  I had some pre-race anxiety. Would I look like a neophyte?  Would I be dressed like everyone else?  If I carried water would someone think I was weak -- a dork?  Haha!  What torture our finite minds can put us through if we let them have control.  I chose my favorite black and pink running skirt and the morning was so cold that I ended up grabbing my pajama bottoms out of my bag and wearing them.  So much for looking like a dork.  

The marathoners and half marathoners went first at 9:00 am. The rest of us -- the 10Ker's went out at 9:30.  My goal was simple:  Run the race without having to walk at all & hopefully come in around 1 hr. & 15-20 minutes.  Well, I did both.  I ran the whole thing without walking and my time was 1:09:44 -- not bad for a slow runner.

I actually had a few epiphanies along the way but I will save those for another blog.  Pic posted at right.  It was a great day!